Giants Are in Deep You Know What Without Madison Bumgarner

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, April 23, 2017 10:34 PM UTC

Sunday, Apr. 23, 2017 10:34 PM UTC

Has the odd-numbered year curse struck the San Francisco Giants already? It sure appears so as the struggling team has now lost its most important player, Madison Bumgarner, for two months or longer.

This decade, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010, ’12, ’14 and lost to the eventual champion Chicago Cubs in the 2016 NLDS. In odd-numbered years this decade, the Giants have missed the playoffs in each: 86-76 (2011), 76-86 (’13) and 84-78 (’15). It’s dangerous to make any declarations about a baseball team’s entire season in April, but I believe that non-playoff trend now will continue in 2017.

The Giants truly had a weekend to forget. On Friday, the team announced it had placed lefty ace Madison Bumgarner on the disabled list for the first time in his career after suffering injuries to his ribs and throwing shoulder in a dirt bike accident. Bumgarner, who was so magnificent in the 2014 postseason and won World Series MVP honors, has bruised ribs and a Grade 1 or 2 sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder. It’s that latter issue that could cost him at least two months, and some reports are that it will be longer than that. Oh, and San Francisco was swept in Colorado on Sunday to fall to 6-13 and last in the NL West. The Giants are currently +1600 on BetOnline MLB futures to win the NL pennant, but you can pretty much stick a fork in them.

Bumgarner is easily one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball, maybe Top 5. In four starts this season, he is 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts. He has received just five total runs of support, including one run or none in three of them. Since he was called up to the majors for good in June 2010, no pitcher has made more starts, pitched more innings or recorded more outs than Bumgarner. He has logged six straight seasons with at least 30 starts and 200 innings pitched, the second-longest active streak in MLB behind Cole Hamels.

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The 27-year-old is 100-70 in his regular-season career with a 2.99 ERA and has had one of the greatest postseason careers of any pitcher in history with those three titles and a 2.11 ERA in 102.1 innings. Not only that, the guy is one of the best-hitting pitchers alive. He had two homers on Opening Day and wanted to compete in last season’s Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game but the team nixed that.

The Giants aren’t a great offensive team and rely more heavily on their pitching perhaps than any potential contender; they also play at home in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. The team would have been in its rights to not pay Bumgarner during his absence because riding a dirt bike isn’t allowed as part of a standing MLB contract. However, Bumgarner is signed to a very team-friendly deal -- in 2016, he was the lowest-paid of the Giants’ five starting pitchers at $9.75 million -- and the Giants don’t want to alienate their franchise player. He’s a big-time outdoorsman so it’s not exactly a shock he was riding a dirt bike.

The open spot in the rotation goes to Ty Blach, who will start in Bumgarner’s place Tuesday against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. The Giants aren’t deep in their farm system so it’s unlikely they could make a big trade for a pitcher like the White Sox’s Jose Quintana. Giants team president Brian Sabean said after the team signed closer Mark Melancon this past offseason to a big contract that the team was tapped out financially.

Don’t be surprised if the Giants, off to their worst start since 1983, go into quite a funk for a while with this news as it’s nothing short of devastating. As it is, they have won back-to-back games just once in 2017.

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